Guest article by Chris Owens
It’s getting more and more expensive to drive a car these days. Gas prices keep going up, you’ve got auto insurance and road tax to pay, and that’s before you add on any parking charges, mechanics fees or speeding tickets. But there’s help at hand, and it comes in the shape of the humble rock and roll star.
They might be more likely to travel by their own private jet than by car, but if you take a closer look at some of the many songs written about driving over the years, you can pick up some really useful hints to save you money:
Used Cars by Bruce Springsteen:
“Now, mister, the day my numbers comes in I ain’t ever gonna ride in no used car again.”
No list of songs about driving would be complete without a nod of recognition to The Boss. Obviously there’s Thunder Road and Born to Run, as well as this, Springsteen’s tale of a simple childhood dream to win the lottery and buy a shiny new car. And there’s plenty of wisdom behind the great man’s words, as research has shown that insuring a brand new vehicle can often cost less than an older model. New cars have much better security and anti-theft devices, and as a result, they’re less likely to get stolen. While older cars are often owned by younger drivers, who insurers charge higher premiums because they’re a greater risk. It can definitely pay to shop around and compare the best deals.
Crosstown Traffic by Jimi Hendrix:
“You’re just like crosstown traffic, so hard to get through to you. Crosstown traffic, I don’t need to run over you. Crosstown traffic, all you do is slow me down. And I’m tryin’ to get on the other side of town.”
And there’s no second invitation needed for me to include Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 classic Crosstown Traffic, a simply awesome tune. Wherever you go in the world, traffic in towns and cities grinds to a standstill during rush hour. And that should lead you to ask the question “do I really have to drive?” If you work in an urban area, could you leave the car behind and take the bus or train instead? How about swapping four wheels for two and biking instead? Or even walking to the office once in a while? Good for the environment and the wallet at the same time.
The Passenger by Iggy Pop:
“I am a passenger, and I ride and I ride. I ride through the city’s backside. Get into the car. We’ll be the passenger. We’ll ride through the city tonight. See the city’s ripped insides.”
Punk legend Iggy Pop has been just as noticeable in recent years for his appearances in car insurance commercials on UK television as he has been for his music, but maybe he was dishing out automobile-related advice as far back as 1977’s classic track The Passenger. If you’ve got no other option but to drive to work, why not arrange a car pool scheme with some of your colleagues to share gas costs?
Gallon of Gas by The Kinks:
“I’ve been waiting for years to buy a brand new Cadillac. But now that I’ve got one I wanna send it right back. I can’t afford the gas for my luxury limousine. But even if I had the dough no one’s got no gasoline.”
The cost of gas has been a sore subject for a long, long time, with The Kinks bemoaning back in 1979 how it wasn’t worth buying an expensive new car as they wouldn’t be able to afford to fill the gas tank, while in more recent years indie band Bloc Party stated the obvious when they pointed out “the price of gas keeps on rising, nothing comes for free”. Becoming a more efficient driver is the easiest way to cut fuel consumption and bring the cost of motoring down. All you have to do is remember a few handy hints like checking your tire pressure regularly, removing any unnecessary additional weight before your trip, and driving smoothly rather than putting your foot on the gas. Small steps that can add up to big savings over time.
Fast Cars by The Buzzcocks:
“They’re so depressing, Going round and round. Ooh, they make me dizzy. Oh fast cars they run me down, Fast cars, fast cars, fast cars I hate fast cars!”
If you’re on a fairly tight budget, choose your car carefully. Veteran English punks The Buzzcocks sang of their hate of sports cars on 1991’s compilation album Operator’s Manual, and while we’d all love a brand new, top of the range SUV or high performance motor, a more modest model is not only cheaper to buy, but will also be less expensive to insure and run, as they’re likely to use less gas too.
Ridin’ by Chamillionaire:
“Police think they can see me lean, I’m tint so it ain’t easy to be seen. When you see me ride by they can see the glean, and my shine on the deck and the TV screen.”
Chamillionaire may have rapped about all things bling on his number one and Grammy Award winning record Ridin’, but unless you’ve got a bank account to match the superstar, it might be worth steering clear of making too many modifications to your car. Souping up your bumpers, spoilers, and exhausts, lowering your suspension and modifying the engine will all lead to higher auto insurance premiums. And while having those tinted windows can look cool, make sure they’re within the legal limits or you could be invalidating your insurance anyway.
The Road To Nowhere by The Talking Heads:
“We’re on a road to nowhere, come on inside. Takin’ that ride to nowhere, we’ll take that ride.”
Taking a little time to plan your journey before you set out can not only save you money, but also plenty of valuable time. Plot your route carefully and use GPS navigation systems to guide you to your destination – that way you won’t get lost and end up driving round and round wasting gas! And check the traffic reports regularly to try and avoid any major tailbacks. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a few hours stuck in a queue of cars going nowhere fast, so take a different route if you find out about delays on the road ahead.
Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car by U2:
“Daddy won’t let you weep. Daddy won’t let you ache. Daddy gives you as much as you can take. A-ha sha-la, a-ha sha-la. Daddy’s gonna pay for your crashed car.”
And finally, if the worst was to happen and you end up totalling your beautiful car, you could suck it up and buy a brand new one using cheap car finance. Or you could just take the advice of Bono and the U2 boys from their 1993 album Zooropa and let someone else pay for the repairs or buy you another one!
Chris Owens is a writer for UK consumer website moneysupermarket.com on subjects including motor insurance, travel and cheap car finance.